Roadmap over who drives Durban bus service leads to dead end

The city’s bus service, run by Jacob Zuma’s nephew, has caused endless problems over the past decade.

28 August 2020 - 06:00
At an executive committee meeting on Tuesday, the DA voted against a 'roadmap' for the Durban's public transport operations.
At an executive committee meeting on Tuesday, the DA voted against a 'roadmap' for the Durban's public transport operations.
Image: Stock image

The DA in eThekwini has locked horns with the council over preferential procurement relating to the city’s proposed roadmap for a municipal entity that will take over bus operations in Durban.

At an executive committee meeting on Tuesday, the DA voted against a “roadmap” for the city’s public transport operations, as the party believes the proposed roadmap only continues “the status quo that does not serve eThekwini’s poorest residents who rely on the bus service”.

The disagreement, according to DA caucus leader Nicole Graham, is the procurement proposal that excludes other “capable race groups”.

She argued the city should rather prioritise providing the best possible service for eThekwini residents.

“The resolution that came before the executive committee repeatedly and expressly mentions Tansnat, and that it is the only ‘African’ bus service in the city. It goes on to mention that all other bus services are operated by those of ‘Indian descent’,” said Graham.

“The report seeks to adopt the ‘principle’ that shareholding in the municipal entity must be given to ‘priority groups’ that are black people who are youth, military veterans, women and disabled.” 

Tansnat is owned by Mandla Gcaba – the nephew of former president Jacob Zuma – and has been operating eThekwini buses for more than a decade on a month-to-month contract.

The roadmap proposes that “shareholding by private individuals or entities, especially existing public transport operators in the city, should be approved in the transformation of public transport delivery” and the only existing private entity is the incumbent operator, Tansnat.

This has been going on for 11 years - flying in the face of the idea of regular and competitive bidding enshrined in the constitution.
Nicole Graham, DA caucus leader 

The municipality said if the council approved the participation of private individuals or entities, other players would only be relevant then.

“If the proposal for shareholding by private individuals or entities is acceptable, and that while the municipality is required to be majority shareholder, 40% be made available for private individuals or entities.”

Graham also believes Tansnat’s contract has for years been given unfair preference. The council agreed to move away from this in 2016 and 2018, but failed.

“This has been going on for 11 years - flying in the face of the idea of regular and competitive bidding enshrined in the constitution,” she said.

“The municipality and Tansnat have been locked in a dispute for over three years about who owes who money.

“The municipality’s budget statement claims Tansnat owes the municipality over R580m for security charges, leases, ticket rolls and other operating costs. The amount ticks over monthly and promises of mediation and legal processes seemingly amount to nought.”

She said the DA would never support any item that expressly excluded any race group.

“There are many Indian bus operators in Durban who have run successful, safe and reliable services for decades. Why should they be excluded because they are Indian?”

Graham argued the DA had no issue with broadening participation in the economy, but did not support the roadmap as “it has become clear that radical economic transformation in eThekwini is synonymous with tenders for pals and looting of the city’s coffers”.

She added that the resolution that came before executive committee excluded bus services are operated by those of “Indian descent”.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said: “Provision is made for black people who fall within the following categories: youth, women, disability, people living in rural or underdeveloped communities, military veterans and cooperatives, which is at least 51% by black people.”

He clarified that the category of "black" people is inclusive of Africans, Indians, coloureds and Asians.

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